Thesis

Hawthorne's "intimate, ambivalent relationship": mesmerism in The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale romance

In The House of the Seven Gables (1851) and The Blithedale Romance (1852) Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the symbol of mesmerism in varied and often contradictory ways not only as a lens for examining the shifting connotations of the pseudoscience but also as a way of interrogating and, at times, reconfiguring gender roles and social hierarchies within the nineteenth-century. Using a variety of primary and secondary source materials as the basis of a nuanced analysis of mesmerism within Hawthorne’s texts, this thesis contends that Hawthorne ultimately uses the pseudoscience not only as a site of reflection and re-envisioning of the concepts of masculinity and female agency, but also problemizes the availability of truth not only to the author figure, but to the reader and society as a whole.

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